At the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou in September 2016, President Xi Jinping told Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that Sino-Singapore ties had always been a step ahead of China’s ties with other ASEAN countries.
Since that summit, Singapore had encountered 2 major incidents.
First, Global Times accused Singapore in taking sides over the South China Sea ruling and second, the detention of Terrex vehicles.
China clearly wants us to support their actions in the region and as we continue to remain neutral, China is resorting to Communist United Front (CUF) tactics of the 60s.
1. Use of proxies to put pressure. Instructing Global Times to slam Singapore and subsequently Hong Kong to detain our amoured vehicles, China is using their “resources” to gently remind Singapore.
2. Spreading influence and attract supporters. Of late, China became closer to many of our neighbours. Duterte went for a state visit. China poured investments into Malaysia. Is this a sign that Singapore can be excluded?
3. Whispering campaigns. The word is out that Singapore businessmen have heard a lot of negativity about Singapore and they are worried about bilateral relationships. However, there is no official new from the central China Government criticizing Singapore. What is the truth?
From time to time, Singapore is put to the test. As a small country, we cannot afford to flinch. Our core interest is to maintain credibility and we have always stood our ground and respond clearly and calmly. We follow and respect international laws.
We will not allow others to pressure us to change our position. Our relationships with other countries will be permanently altered if we buckled under pressure. On 09 Jan 2017, PM Lee Hsein Loong has officially written a request to Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on the return of our amoured vehicles.
As a small country, we are not pro-US or pro-China.
We are pro-Singapore and we need to maintain our core interest, to remain relevant and credible.
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